I studied for the MLitt in Bible and Contemporary World in 2009–2011, and it was a very special experience for me. I completed the course over two years while working full-time as a church pastor in Glasgow. My course of studies covered the book of Revelation, the Bible and diversity, and the question of suffering. I then wrote my dissertation on the political theology of the book of Revelation, a project which I thoroughly enjoyed. Success in this research component of my MLitt led to an offer of full-time PhD study at St Mary’s. I moved to St Andrews with my family, and after three and a half years, I successfully defended (and subsequently published) my doctoral dissertation on ‘apocalyptic’ theology in Paul’s letters. I now have the great privilege of combining my academic and church experience in my present role as Tutor of New Testament at Trinity College in Bristol, training candidates for ordained and lay ministry in the church and elsewhere.
Staying in beautiful St Andrews twice a year for the Residential Study Weeks was a real highlight, adding an excellent collegial experience to the pattern of largely self-directed distance learning. The shared experiences and stimulating conversations of those weeks extended beyond the classroom, and after several years I still remain in contact with fellow students who came to Fife from all around the world. This September, I had the wonderful experience of returning to St Mary’s College for a Residential Study Week, to deliver a guest lecture on the Book of Revelation — the very same course that kicked it off for me eight years ago (even staying in the same hotel!) As someone who was not in a position to give up a full-time job in order to study, the distance learning format of the MLitt opened doors which would otherwise have remained closed to me. For that I remain very grateful. In around three years time, I hope to be submitting another research project, which will take me back to my first week on the MLitt: my own published commentary on the book of Revelation.